The News & Record’s Brant Wilkerson-New is one of 65 voters in the AP Top 25 poll for this season. Every week, he’ll break down who’s on — and not on — his ballot and why.
Who’s on top?
I had Kentucky at No. 1 in my preseason rankings (whoops), and Duke quickly rockets to the top of the poll by virtue of its 118-84 destruction of the Wildcats on Tuesday. The Blue Devils rank first nationally in offensive efficiency by a wide margin and feature the most valuable player in basketball in Zion Williamson and perhaps the best offensive player in RJ Barrett.
Who’s next in line
Admittedly, I had concerns about Kansas given the off-court issues around the program at the moment and two freshmen stepping into major roles. The Jayhawks picked up right where they left off last season with a monster performance from Dedric Lawson in the opener and strong nights from Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson. I jumped North Carolina over Tennessee as the Tar Heels won two road games behind a healthy Cam Johnson and a glimpse of a scary athletic Nas Little on Friday at Elon.
Buffalo makes the big leap this week, coming in at No. 20 after its overtime victory at West Virginia. The Bulls probably should have gotten more Top 25 consideration in the preseason given their NCAA Tournament victory and 27-win season. C.J. Massiburg is a bucket-getter and the Bulls play fast and free. Let’s make amends, Buffalo.
Kentucky’s performance against Duke was cause for all of the concern, then the Wildcats went and made things worse on Friday in a turnover-filled near-disaster against Southern Illinois. Kentucky eventually pulled it together and got the win, but the offense has been out of sorts with 34 turnovers through two games.
In the Footprint
Virginia is in its usual top-five post thanks to the nation’s best defense and Florida State could be a top-10 team soon. The Seminoles certainly looked the part in a beating of a top-25 quality team in Florida, while Clemson and Virginia tech round out the ACC’s poll representatives.
The next couple of weeks should create a better picture with plenty of good competition in tournaments and other early-season events around Thanksgiving. N.C. State is certainly on my radar thanks to the Wolfpack’s offensive efficiency and depth, but I’d like to see them play a few tougher opponents first.